The popular blogger Alexander Lapshin, in connection with the Belarusian events, recalled his bitter experience of being imprisoned in a prison where Lukashenko keeps unwanted journalists and opposition:
“Today, a day after the elections in Belarus, where the dictator Lukashenko predictably drew 79% support for himself, the country is restless. The people do not intend to tolerate the collective farmer until the end of his days, and I hope that the mustachioed will end up in prison, where he now at these minutes is holding thousands of journalists, oppositionists, just citizens who have their own opinion. How can I support the Belarusians, being 3000 kilometers from them, in faraway Israel? Except that I will tell you in what terrible conditions Lukashenko keeps those who, without trial or investigation, are seized on the streets of Minsk, Brest, Orsha, Pinsk and shoved into the famous Volodarka prison, where I happened to be.
They are being held in remand prison #1, better known as Volodarka, and is located in the very center of Minsk. There is a second place where people are taken for interrogations and the most stubborn can be kept for months, this is the KGB prison of Belarus literally next door. Both of these buildings can be called historical, there and during the Great Patriotic War, the Nazis kept Soviet partisans, prisoners of war, Jews and communists.
I ended up there on December 17, 2016 after being arrested at the request of the Transcaucasian dictator of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev. The Azerbaijani Prosecutor General's Office persecuted me, a Russian blogger and journalist, for visiting Nagorno-Karabakh and for articles about the destruction of Christian shrines by Azerbaijanis. I was kept at Volodarka for about two months, until February 7, 2017, when Aliyev sent his private plane for me.
All this time, which dragged on the extradition procedure and appeals to the Supreme Court of Belarus, I was on Volodarka. Before that, they starved for two days in a tiny cell without windows and a toilet at the Pervomaisky District Department of Internal Affairs of Minsk. According to the laws of Belarus, feeding in the ROVD is not required, so if you find yourself there, then be prepared for tests. There are no beds, let alone chairs, there either. Just a dirty and smelly room measuring 3x3 meters. From time to time they took me out of there to the second floor of the ROVD, where they demanded to give up the lawyer hired by my family and convinced me that it would be better for me to agree to immediate extradition to Baku, especially since the plane was already waiting at the Minsk airport.
While they were "breaking" me at the ROVD (the District Department of the Interior), my wife and alawyer tried to break into this very ROVD to meet with me and they were told that I myself had refused a lawyer and did not want to meet with him.
Only thanks to the promptly raised fuss in the media, the Belarusian security forces caved in and allowed the lawyer to meet with me. For two days the family and the lawyer tried to achieve this, shocked by the gross violation of the detainee's rights.
Then, on the night of the third day, as I was without food and without communication with the outside world, the Belarusian militiamen roughly clasped my hands in handcuffs and pushed me into a paddy wagon. In addition to me, there were other people, we were stuffed into a car like sardines in a can, from which it was impossible to move or breathe. To torment and freeze them properly, we didn’t drive for a long time and we must understand that there is no heating inside the Belarusian paddy wagons, and outside in December and temperatures are closer to -10 degrees. The hands, which were already squeezed by the handcuffs, were beginning to grow numb and it worried me a lot.
After that, they drove us around Minsk for another two or three hours and shoved new prisoners into the overcrowded paddy wagon. Partly homeless people, partly completely intelligent kind of people who managed to shout out "You won't break us" and "Live Belarus". The latter I heard somewhere, or maybe I read it and later I was destined to hear it more than once.
The lock of the Volodarsky pre-trial detention center in the center of Minsk resembled the arrival of a train with prisoners at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Shouts, barking of shepherd dogs, healthy hulks playing with truncheons and mockingly yelling in our direction "Schneil, Russish Schweine!", Obviously hinting at Soviet films about the Great Patriotic War, and seeing themselves as the Nazis. It seemed very funny to them.
Go ahead, don't linger, don't stop! We are being driven inside. Dirty and shabby walls, the smell of sewage and urine, full of Belarusian policemen laughing and swearing. Then they strip everyone to the point, demand to squat, then open their mouths. Checked like cattle before being sold on the market. Then they pushed in exactly the same camera as in the photo below. Naturally, the photo is not mine - the camera was confiscated from me, but it looks one to one, only two-story beds.
No bedding, no basic amenities. All night I walked around this creepy cell so as not to freeze - there is no heating either. Towards the morning, the bolts and keys creaked and some rumpled guy was pushed into the cell, who held on to his stomach and barely walked a couple of steps to the iron bed and fell on it. He explained with a groan that he had a hernia removed today and that the cops took him literally from the operating room with stitches on his stomach (he lifted his sweater and showed an inflamed stitch with protruding threads, with blood leaking from it). What were you arrested for? He only sadly said "Belarus is alive".
A couple of hours later the door creaked again and the head of the Belarusian cop appeared at the feeder "Get out, quickly!" I grabbed my things and went out, but the guy hesitated - he could not get up and moaned all the time. Three hulks went inside and started kicking on the iron bed on which he was lying, demanding to get up immediately. But he continued to lie. One jabbed him roughly with a club. The guards whinnied: "Is it dead?" But he began to understand with a groan. Then there was a second search (for the second time in a long night), during which Belarusian cops stole from me about 300 euros and 60 Belarusian rubles.
Then they were led through some dirty and stuffy basements, reminiscent of the torture era of the Inquisition. An eerie smell of urine, flowing sewers, a booming echo from his own footsteps. On both sides of the cell, from where the voices of the prisoners are heard.
I was lucky to be in cell 22, which is considered an elite cell on Volodarka. All its "elitism" lies in the fact that the toilet is fenced off from the chamber itself by a wall and there is a door, plus there is a sink and cold water in the tap. That is, you can go to the toilet relatively normally and then wash. There is no hot water anywhere in the prison, but in other cells, instead of a washbasin, there is just a tap 20-30 centimeters above the damn thing, that is, a toilet hole. To wash and brush your teeth, you need to bend over so that your head almost reaches the hole where you pee.
But the main advantage of 22 cameras is of course not its toilet and the presence of water. The most interesting of all is its contingent, since it keeps cultural people in it: journalists, oppositionists, businessmen. It is in it, most likely, that the candidates for the presidency of Belarus are currently contained.
They greeted me well, everyone already knew about me from the news (there was a TV in the cell), just in case they clarified under which article, so as not to be a pedophile, which is considered a zap in prison. Then, seeing that I was frankly confused and did not understand where I was, they sat down at a semblance of a table (common fund), poured tea, gave me a snack, presented me with a toothbrush, razor, slippers. I remember, I ate from a hungry land, yet it was the third day as Belarusian cops starved me.
I must say that I was immediately warned in a whisper that informers were sitting in the far left corner of the cell - two former police colonels awaiting a court decision on corruption articles. However, I didn't care what secrets I might have - let them knock.
All my cellmates, as it turned out, have been there for a very long time and are awaiting trial, some for two years and the investigators did not even appear. In fact, in this way Lukashenko isolates people without trial or investigation and keeps them in prison for years. All my neighbors look bad, all of them from poor nutrition and stress have pale unhealthy skin, very bad teeth, protruding ribs, bruises under the eyes. There is no sunlight in the cell in principle, the windows are tightly closed with three rows of bars plus "cilia", from which you cannot understand whether it is day or night. The camera is lit by a pair of lights on the ceiling.
Mode? Wake up early in the morning, hang up at ten in the evening. Sit in a cell during the day, unless they take you for a walk for an hour. You can't lie down during the day, the vigilant Belarusian cop will peep through the peephole and you can easily end up in a punishment cell.
In fact, sit 16 hours a day on the lower tier of beds, or around a common table. Food, as already mentioned, is extremely meager. Porridge in the morning. It happens like this: first, in the corridor, a noise is heard from a cart with a huge can of porridge, which other prisoners are delivering to the cells. Kasha is accompanied by a policeman with a truncheon, who makes sure that the balander (food delivery man) does not talk to the arrested and that no one can give or receive anything. From the cameras, half-joking questions are heard "What kind of breakfast?" and the answer is "Kaaasha". Our feeder and this vile voice of "Kaaash" are opening up. Everyone goes to the window with the plates that were handed out beforehand. By the way, the dishes are very dirty, with stuck and dried food and dead insects from time to time.
For lunch, Lukashenko pampers the citizens-prisoners with liquid cabbage soup, and for the second dish, a whole mashed potatoes with tiny pieces of the cheapest sausage, which your dog will not eat.
For dinner, again boring porridge. There is no normal meat and fish in nature. Probably, according to the rules, there should be meat, but the prison authorities are actively plundering everything and the food does not reach the prisoners. If you are unlucky and your loved ones do not bring programs, you will get sick and eventually die. This is not a joke or pathos. Immunity will weaken and die from pneumonia, as it regularly happens in Belarusian prisons. Fortunately, Belarusian prisoners take pity on foreigners like me and share their own programs from home with them.
Did you ask about walks? Exactly one hour a day in tiny "sedimentation tanks" measuring 5 by 5 meters, where twenty or more people are crammed. There is no place, neither to do sports, nor to walk normally. We all tried to walk together in circles one after another, others smoked continuously, or simply stood along the walls involuntarily preventing others from moving. But the main joy is to look at the sky through the lattices above. At least some kind of connection with the outside world.
Washing at Volodarka only once a week. They take everyone out together, first one chamber is washed, then another. We were led along the aforementioned creepy corridors into a tiny room called a "bathhouse", where several hoses hang from the ceiling, from where barely warm water flows in a thin stream. Give only half an hour. The whole cell, where 20-25 people. During this time, with four hoses, you need to have time to wash and also wash your things, because there is no dry cleaning or laundry in the prison.
Even in prison, you cannot have your books from home. Imagine. Relatives cannot bring you books, so you can only read what is available in the prison library. But you need to understand that there is no catalog of the books available in the library, and the inmate librarian appears only a couple of times a month and he deeply does not care about your requests, they will throw a couple of books on the whole cell and that's it, turn around as you like, pass on to your friend. friend. Naturally, there are no normal books there, and there cannot be, just an ordinary old flaw copied from the Soviet library from Sholokhov's series "Virgin Soil Upturned" or, if you're lucky, Gogol or Turgenev.
But the worst thing on Volodarka is getting sick. Despite the fact that formally there is a medical unit there, in fact no one is being treated. There are no medicines, no doctors, no proper equipment. If you have a problem with your teeth, then your tooth will simply be pulled out, and without anesthesia. No one will put fillings on you, much less crowns or bridges. But even to pull out a tooth is a whole story, people wait for weeks to see a doctor and all this time you suffer from pain.
I don’t believe in God, but as a sign of moral support to the Belarusians I put a corresponding note in the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem with the wishes of Lukashenko and his friend Aliyev to be in prison. The case was on July 6, 2020 and look, it seems it starts working.
In conclusion, I will add - Live Belarus! And let Lukashenko find himself in this place and eat from bowls with stuck insects. Or as you are allowed to say now - no to a cockroach.